Chay Lapin, born on 1987, is an American water polo goalkeeper that set the University of California all-time saves record and played with the United States National Team at the Summer Olympics in London 2012, his best accomplishment until today. We’ve had the chance to talk with him to know a little more about his story.
Why do you started playing water polo?
I started playing water polo in seventh grade. Originally I was not a goalkeeper, I was a fast little dude. There was one tournament our goalie got sick when I was in the eighth grade and each of us played one quarter, I ended up playing very good. From that point on I transitioned into a goalkeeper and was fortunate enough to have a fabulous goalkeeper coach who helped me become the player I am today.
Why do you love water polo?
I love water polo because everyone is like a family. It’s a small world in this sport, and everybody knows each other. I played with and against the same players for over 10 years. My best friends came from the water polo and the people I can depend on came from water polo. I would not be the person that I am today without the sport.
It was easy to combine your trainings with the schoolwork?
I believe that water polo kept us disciplined in school because we learned at a young age hard work and structure. Although it was demanding at certain times, I was able to handle a high work and training load.
Did you have to leave anything to keep playing?
I definitely missed out on a lot of fun activities with friends because of water polo related trips. At the time it sucks here and there to miss weddings, birthday parties etc. but the things that I have been able to accomplish I would never trade for.
Did you always wanted to be a professional water polo player?
At a very young age I started playing with the national development team, from 13 years old I started in the pipeline and had a goal to be in the Olympics.
When did you realize you had reached your goals?
I reached my goal in 2012 by making that Olympic team. My original goal was to make the 2008 team but unfortunately, I got cut.
How was the experience of playing at the Olympic Games?
Playing at the Olympic Games was very tough and mentally draining but I loved every moment of it. It is very surreal to walk around and see other athletes that you have admired within water polo and other professional sports.
Did you ever considered playing abroad after finishing college?
Unfortunately when I finished college, team USA decided to stay within the United States and train full time so I did not have the opportunity to go abroad and play. I think that playing abroad is a great experience from everyone that I’ve talked to, if I had an opportunity I definitely would’ve taken it.
What do you think are the main differences between water polo in Europe and in the US?
I couldn’t differentiate all the differences in Europe because I have not played there. I’ve I believe the biggest difference is at a younger age players are exposed to a very much higher level of water polo and coaching. Also there are professional leagues in Europe where there are none in the United States. I believe the United States is growing tremendously in the sport of water pull over the last 10 years, but it starts with the youth and having a high level of coaching to implement habits that are hard to obtainat an older age.
What do you think about BIWPA?
I support and endorse the vision of BIWPA. Not only does this provide the youth an opportunity to see a high level of water polo but also opens our youth to a culture that we cannot experience here in the United States. This also provides coaches the opportunity to learn different aspects of the game and improve their abilities back home where they’re from.
If I had the opportunity as a child or teenager to travel and learn from top coaching and experience European water polo I would 100% of done it.